Saturday, June 09, 2007

Mt. Kilimanjaro, Day 2

The second day was my favorite day on the mountain. We started out at 10,000 feet and hiked to 12,600 feet… our shortest hike of the 6 days and with breath-taking scenery the whole way. We started out at the forest’s edge in the Moreland zone and made our way into the Heather zone defined by smaller, moss covered trees and eventually just shrubs. We had lunch at a great spot and the weather was pleasantly warm all day. But the real treat was coming into the beautiful Shira Camp while it was still warm and with several hours of daylight left. The sun was shining and it was warm enough to walk around in sandals (the last time I wore them until we were down.

As we came into camp, there were 4 porters hanging out on some rocks singing a song about Kilimanjaro in perfect four-part harmony. It was beautiful even though they mainly seemed to be doing it to relax and pass the time. I was glad to see that they get some downtime too after seeing them carry everything they do for two days.

Shira camp is also beautiful because the views up and down are beautiful. You have a clear view of the summit looking up and the clouds that had partially covered it when we arrived kept clearing until the peak was unobstructed. Looking downward, you see Shira Cathedral, the camp’s namesake. The Shira ridge used to be as tall as Kibo Peak (the name of Kilimanjaro’s Summit). The glaciers used to end close to Shira Ridge, 1000s of feet below where they are now. Day 2 was a dream all around. The hiking was beautiful and not that strenuous and the camp was one of those places that makes camping so amazing. Even though we were already above 12,000 feet, we wouldn't start to feel the altitude until Day 3.

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